Criminal defense in Austin Texas.

What Lawyers Do

Posted By on August 16, 2010

What Defense Lawyers Do:

By requiring the state to prove its case and helping defendants understand their options in the criminal justice system, defense attorneys can help ensure that the state doesn’t send innocent people to jail and that individuals who commit criminal offenses receive appropriate sentences that punish without leading to unnecessary prison and jail overcrowding.

–The Texas Fair Defense Project.

“Helping people understand their options” is fair enough.  The bit about ensuring “innocent” people don’t go to jail, though, is not quite right.

A defense lawyer’s job, is to keep you from going to jail, whether you did it or not.  It’s a bit like being a plumber, or a doctor.  The goal is to mitigate the damages, not to assign blame.

The part about “appropriate sentences” also rings false.  Whether a sentence is appropriate is more a matter of concern for judges, or to jurors.  What’s “appropriate” one might be disproportionate to another, but – for defense lawyers – less is always more (as a defense attorney friend of mine likes to say).

But then again, that’s the nature of an adversarial system.  So long as both sides are roughly equal, justice is likely to be found somewhere in between.  After all, it’s not “from the benevolence of the baker” that we expect our bread.


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